Dear FJMC members and supporters,
We join Jewish organizations and communities across North America and beyond in expressing our grief over the shooting attack Saturday, October 27, 2018 at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Unfortunately, we now know that the victims include Daniel Stein, past president of the men's club there, several other members of that club, as well as family members of our brothers across the continent. Many of our leaders from the Tri-State Region (comprising the greater Pittsburgh area) learned of the attack during Shabbat morning services for their biennial retreat with leaders from the KIO (Kentucky-Indiana-Ohio) Region.
It is a testament to the brotherhood and the life-affirming principles that underscore FJMC's mission that the retreat participants comforted each other both by recognizing the shock and pain arising from this tragedy and by continuing to celebrate Shabbat together in part as a tribute to the victims of this attack.
Sadly, we at FJMC know that this deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in American history represents merely the worst example in a rising trend of hatred for Jews and other minorities and marginalized groups in our society.
Even worse, early reports now suggest that the perpetrator targeted Tree of Life because the congregation served as a Pittsburgh venue and co-sponsor for National Refugee Shabbat, a program that underscores values at the heart of one of the FJMC's signature programs, the Yom HaShoah Yellow Candles project.
Over 35 years ago, when FJMC leaders in Boston and Toronto created the Yellow Candle, they did so not just as a vehicle for home observance of Yom HaShoah, but also in order to raise funds needed to secure ransom for Syrian Jewish refugees. Our brothers, now of blessed memory, understood that "Never Again" means that hatred and violence targeting any marginalized people cannot be tolerated anywhere at any time. And now, here in what is supposed to be a safe place, the madness continues. Is it simply hatred? Is it fear of the other? We have to keep asking; we have to keep searching; we have to speak out - on our own behalf as targets of hatred, and on behalf of others who do not have a voice to be heard - so that hopefully, eventually, we will be able to make this kind of madness stop.
We therefore re-commit ourselves to honoring the origins of the Yellow Candles program in order to continue advancing lessons from Jewish history and tradition. We must respond to these forces of darkness by shining light into our communities, and we can do that in part by embracing the enduring mission that is at the heart of our Yellow Candles program.
Stan Greenspan, International President
Rabbi Andy Shugerman, Executive Director
Tom Sudow, 1st Vice President
Aaron Altman, Vice President
William Becker, Ph.D., Vice President
Alan Budman, Vice President
Allan Kahan, Vice President
Jeff Schulman, Vice President
Bruce Tomar, Vice President
Steve Dix, Treasurer
David Singer, Secretary
Joel Kurtz, Member of Executive Committee
Ken Matlick, Member of Executive Committee
George Nadas, Member of Executive Committee
Allan Gottesman, Honorary President
Larry Allen, Past International President
Jerry Agrest, Past International President
Mark Berlin, Past International President
Robert E. Braitman, M.D., Past International
President Steve Davidoff, Ph.D., Past International President
Norm Kurtz, Past International President
Bob Levine, Past International President
Michael Mills, Past International President
J. Harold Nissen, Past International President
Daniel Stern, Past International President
Andy Alper, Board Member
Creighton J. Cohn, Board Member
Mark A. Druy, Ph.D., Board Member
Greg E. Gore, Board Member
Stephen A. Neustein, Board Member
Bruce Sicherman, Board Member
Kenneth A. Turkewitz, Board Member
Eric M. Weis, Board Member
Larry Wiederhorn, Board Member
Norman Katz, Member of Executive Committee, San Diego, CA US